James Marsden Reveals How Julia Roberts Helped Him Land His Hairspray Role

James Marsden revealed that he has Julia Roberts to thank for landing the part of Corny Collins in 2007's Hairspray after having a surprise encounter with the Pretty Woman star.
By emily belfiore May 28, 2020 11:58 AMTags
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James Marsden owes Julia Roberts a special thank you.

During his virtual visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, the Dead To Me star revealed that the Pretty Woman star helped him land his role of Corny Collins in the 2007 remake of Hairspray, telling host Ellen DeGeneres that Roberts put in a good word for him. 

"That role came about—I was sitting down with Adam Shankman, the director, and [producers] Craig Zadan and Neil Meron at the time in an empty restaurant off-Broadway in New York City and we were just talking about, you know, the potential of me playing Corny Collins," he began. "And in the middle of the interview—it was an interview because I was trying to get the job—I had a tap on my shoulder and it was Julia Roberts."

Marsden continued, "And she was standing there and she said, ‘I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. But, I just wanted to tell you that you're in my favorite movie, The Notebook, and I love what you do in the film. And congratulations on it. Nice to meet you.'"

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"And then Adam Shankman turns to me and he goes, ‘If you didn't have the job already, I think that sort of seals it,'" he concluded. "So, I have Julia Roberts to thank for that. She was the one who cemented me getting cast in that role."

While on the topic of musical roles, the duo also discussed Marsden's dance moves in Dead To Me season 2, which he said admitted he was a little nervous going into those scenes. 

"There's a scene in this season where I'm sort of cheering Christina Applegate's character up and it was written in the script: ‘Ben does a little tap dance.' And I, again, called [creator] Liz [Feldman] and said, ‘When does this shoot?' She said, ‘Oh, Thursday.' I said, ‘It's Tuesday. I can't tap dance. It's not something I can just pick up,'" he recalled. "And she said, ‘Well, whatever dances you can do.' And I said, ‘I can dance like somebody who thinks he's good, will that do?' So she just let me make a fool of myself essentially."

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As the two continued to catch up, the 27 Dresses star gave DeGeneres an update on how he's been faring while practicing social distancing. "I had really big ideas about what I was gonna do with my day—I actually wrote down a whole daily schedule. It was like, ‘Wake up at 8. Have an hour of mediation. Eat something healthy. 11 o'clock: Go for a walk. Social distance. Come back." And then that lasted for a week or two."

After DeGeneres chimed in with her social distancing routine, which consisted of pizza and wine, Marsden joked, "Now it's like, 'How fast can I get through a pint of ice cream?'"